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‘Plane’s clarinet has an eloquent and expressive voice. He can be clownish, rude, barracking and sneering; he can weep, simper and smarm; he can joke, cackle and cheer. He can also produce whispered tone from nothing, bite the air with a chisel edge, roar low down like a didgeridoo or soar with the pure white sound of a cathedral treble.’
‘The delectable soloist, Robert Plane, must be smiling for joy…’
International Record Review
‘..but the performance of the Finzi Clarinet Concerto which, for me, gets right to the heart is the excellent Robert Plane’s….sinuous and flexible.’
Recommended Recording, Building a Library, BBC Radio 3
“The Clarinet Sonata, Howells’s last major chamber work was completed in 1946. The dedicatee was Frederick Thurston, and the wonderfully idiomatic 1980 recording by his wife and pupil Thea King has certainly stood the test of time. Robert Plane’s poetic account is possibly finer still, with its entrancing poise and liquid tone. Plane shines too in the coquettish miniature A Near-Minuet and sublime Rhapsodic Quintet.”
“The clarinet plays a brilliant top line in Weber’s Clarinet Quintet op.34. He is a weightless funambulist dancing along the stave, leaping up the ledger lines and attacking with a breathless whisper. His two octave leaps are the joy of his instrument, and his finger work in the loud-soft hemi-demi-semi quaver-plus ascents is witness to the hours of effort in a practice room which those who sell records by hype cut short.”
London Evening Standard
“A highly accomplished, indeed commanding performance of Finzi’s gorgeous Clarinet Concerto from Robert Plane. With his bright, singing tone and effortless technical mastery, Plane leaves a stylish impression …”
“..clarinettist Robert Plane, a formidable young player who combines the charisma and virtuosity of a solo player with the ensemble skills of the orchestral musician.”
BBC Music Magazine (Diana Burrell Concerto London Premiere, Barbican)
“The concerto was specially written for Robert Plane, whose outstanding musicianship fully justified the composer’s confidence; made clear in both her pre-concert talk, and in her probing of the technical and expressive limits of this finely crafted score…Chamber orchestras ought to be queuing up for a chance at this concerto with Plane.”
The Musical Times (Diana Burrell Concerto)
“..a young man with technique to spare and musicality to match…the slow movement contained one of those rare moments – the audience awed into silence, a velvety halo round the clarinet – in which time stood still.”
The Yorkshire Evening Press
Robert Plane’s hugely varied career has seen concerto appearances in Europe, Asia and the USA, with performances of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto in Madrid with the City of London Sinfonia, Beijing with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and in the USA with the Virginia Symphony. In 1992 he won the overall Gold Medal at the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition and he made his BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011. Other highlights of past seasons include Piers Hellawell’s Agricolas with the Ulster Orchestra and RTE Symphony Orchestra, Finzi with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra and Stanford with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
Rob has tirelessly pursued a particular passion for British clarinet music in concert and on disc, his Gramophone Award winning account of Finzi’s Concerto and Gramophone Award-shortlisted Bax Sonatas being just two of a large collection of recordings of works by the great English Romantics. He has performed and recorded with the Gould Piano Trio for over twenty five years, and they commissioned Huw Watkins to compose ‘Four Fables’ for them in 2018 in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the Corbridge Chamber Music Festival. Rob looks forward to performing Arthur Bliss’s Clarinet Quintet in summer 2021 at the Gower Festival and Three Choirs Festival, kindly supported by the Bliss Trust.
Rob has explored the clarinet quintet repertoire with a number of the finest string quartets, opening BBC Radio 3’s ‘Brahms Experience’ with a live broadcast from St. George’s Bristol of the Brahms Quintet with the Skampa Quartet. He has given concerts in Germany and the USA with the Mandelring Quartet and at home in the UK with the Maggini, Carducci, Tippett, Brodsky, Dante and Sacconi Quartets.
Always keen to take on a challenge, Rob gave his first performance of Boulez’s ‘Dialogue de l’ombre double’ at the Belfast Sonorities Festival in 2018, a work he subsequently revived in Manchester’s Stoller Hall in 2019. His delving into unjustly neglected works has unearthed concertos by Iain Hamilton, Ruth Gipps and Richard Walthew which he subsequently recorded at Glasgow City Halls with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins. The resulting disc, ‘Reawakened’, was released by Champs Hill Records in July 2020. ‘Contrasts’, a disc of Hungarian repertoire for the same label, was praised by the Guardian as ‘a little gem’ on its release last year.
Rob was principal clarinet of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales until June 2021 and has held the same position with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Royal Northern Sinfonia. He was recently appointed Head of Woodwind Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.